Baseball was a way of life. Between my brother and I playing, Mom running the concession stand, and Dad coaching and umpiring, Winter Park Optimist was our second home. I can still hear the cheers from the sidelines, smell the freshly cut grass, and taste the sweat mixed with red clay.
For the first eighteen years of my life, baseball was my identity. It was what I loved.
You see, my dad was a great athlete growing up, but through a rare condition lost sight in his right eye at fifteen and ruptured a disc in his back. Those two events had a significant impact on his ability to play collegiately, but they couldn’t steal his love for the game. A love that he instilled in me.
But, at eighteen, I would have to make one of the biggest decisions of my life. A decision that forced me sacrifice my identity.
As an eighteen-year-old senior in high school, I was presented with the opportunity to walk-on as a pitcher at N.C. State. Although I was excited about the prospect, somewhere within, I was unsettled.
A few months earlier, I was invited to go on a mission trip with our area Young Life group to Bimini in the Bahamas. This was a first for me and it was well outside my comfort zone, but my unsettled feelings seemed to be related to this trip. However, there was a huge problem.
The trip overlapped the first game of our State Tournament and I was the starting pitcher. A quick, common sense decision was made.
I can’t leave my teammates.
Resolved to stay home and fulfill my duty to my team, I gave up on the mission trip and my spot was filled by another student. Over the next few weeks, I was tormented. I couldn’t get this trip off my mind.
Then, my Young Life leader, Paul Phillips, called me to say that someone had dropped out, my spot was open. Again.
I knew what I needed to do. I needed to go to Bimini.
Here’s the rub, I didn’t get the response I thought I’d get. My coaches were upset as were some of my teammates. And if they’re honest, I think my family was uncertain as well.
Hear this: You will never have 100% support as you pursue your heart’s passion.
Don’t allow fear to paralyze you when these times come. Instead, know that courage is necessary. Now this isn’t reckless courage, but rather courage tied to faith.
My experience in Bimini not only deepened my faith and created stories that still ripple through my life today.
I have learned and fully believe that you can’t always make right decisions. Yet, all the time, we hear, “I hope I made the right decision.“
There is nothing worse than waffling through a decision. We all know that person, or we’ve been that person ourselves. We ask ten people what they think, then we make it, then we regret it, then we change our mind.
If you live this way, you’re simply reacting to every circumstance and you’ll end up a prisoner, trapped by your own indecision. Uncertainty tramples your spirit and when there is no confidence, doubt and fear reign. The stagnancy that accompanies indecision is deadly. It kills dreams. No dream was ever accomplished through indecision. It is overcoming and persisting through indecision where great stories are told.
Andy Andrews talks about this as his 4th Decision in The Traveler’s Gift: a decided heart
When you make a decision, you take responsibility for making it and then move forward to make it right. A decided heart is one with purpose and one that has a vision greater than itself.
Looking back, I know for certain that Bimini was supposed to be a part of my story and I am thankful for it.
You too have great things ahead. Don’t let fear and doubt keep you from them. Embrace certainty and confidence that trump fear.
This clip reminds me that when you have a decided heart, people will follow.
My encouragement today: be certain.